Fossil Ridge Team Holds on to Science Bowl Crown
For Sophie, Jackson, Kary, Colin, and Quentin, the setting was different, but the outcome was the same. For the third year in a row, the Fossil Ridge High School team took home gold in the Colorado High School Science Bowl in the first in-person competition since 2019.
The team members, Sophie Wang, Jackson Dryg, Kary Fang, Colin Magelky, and Quentin Perez-Wahl, have been working—and winning—together for years. Before they all won in 2022, Sophie and Jackson were on the 2021 winning team, while Colin, Quentin, Jackson, and Kary were all a part of the 2020 National Middle School Science Bowl champion team.
“Honestly, we have fun with it! We know each other really well,” Colin said. “We don’t get stressed out about it. We keep it chill and keep communicating.”
After two years of competing in a virtual environment, the teammates’ communication and trust in each other made this in-person shift easier. Those same things made it possible for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Education team and volunteers to make the 33rd Colorado High School Science Bowl happen.
“It’s fun to see and feel the energy in the room,” said Tom Mason, NREL’s STEM education outreach coordinator. “NREL has a rich history with the Science Bowl. It’s great to be back in person with everyone excited.”
Connecting With the Community
A critical part of NREL’s mission is educating the next generation of scientists and encouraging interest in STEM. Hosting the Colorado Regional High School Science Bowl provides an opportunity for students to develop their STEM skills in a non-classroom environment while also meeting and interacting with NREL researchers.
For Dan Dupuis, an NREL bioenergy researcher, connecting with the community is what keeps him volunteering year after year.
“I’ve been working the Science Bowl for five or six years. It’s a blast,” Dupuis said. “It’s cool for the kids to see the researchers from a local national lab helping at this event. Hopefully it inspires them to join us in the future!”
Ashley Berninghaus, a postdoctoral researcher at the laboratory, echoed Dupuis’ excitement.
“I think it’s really inspiring to see how much these kids know,” Berninghaus said. “It’s a really cool way to interface with younger kids and get them excited about science.”
Berninghaus and Dupuis were two of the nearly 70 volunteers assisting with the event. While most volunteers were NREL employees, others from local and national STEM groups, the Colorado School of Mines, and the Department of Energy supported the event.
Colorado Team Looks To Take Nationals
The teams were asked questions covering a wide range of STEM topics including biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, earth and space sciences, and energy, as well as questions about the Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories.
The Colorado High School Science Bowl had 18 teams from 14 different schools participating this year:
- Arvada West High School
- Centennial High School
- Cherokee Trail High School
- Cherry Creek High School
- Fairview High School
- Fort Collins High School
- Fossil Ridge High School
- Horizon High School
- Loveland High School
- Loveland Classical Academy
- Ridgeview Classical Academy
- Rock Canyon High School
- Rocky Mountain High School
- Severance High School
The final four teams were Fossil Ridge High School, Fairview High School, Ridgeview Classical Academy, and Cherry Creek High School.
The Fossil Ridge team now looks to the national competition, which for a few members of the team will be a family affair. Sophie, Colin, and Jackson all have younger sisters who are on the winning Colorado Middle School Science Bowl team and heading to the national competition.
In Washington, D.C., the teams will face off for the National Science Bowl in a fast-paced question-and-answer format, being tested on a range of science disciplines, including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math.
Learn more about NREL’s education programs and upcoming STEM opportunities.